“You Can’t Please Everyone, So You’ve Got To Please Yourself.”

Posted by Dave

The lyrics which form the title of today’s entry are from Rick Nelson’s 1972 hit “Garden Party,” composed after he was booed at a Madison Square Garden “Oldies” show for daring to include some newer tunes. As a philosopher, Rick may not rank beside Confucius or Lao Tse, but I do believe he expressed an important truth in this simple chorus.

All parties (not just the garden variety) need to express a point of view – be it that of the host and hostess or the guest of honor. The choice of music (as well as its volume) at a silver or golden anniversary event should – generally – reflect the tastes of the honorees. Food, timing, and decor at a quincinera and bar or bat mitzvah need to be appropriate for early teens. Everything at a wedding ceremony and reception ought to be an extension of the bride’s personality. (Sorry about that, grooms. The rehearsal dinner is your event.)

As the song truly says, “You can’t please everyone…” Or, at least, you can’t expect to please them all at the same time.

For this reason, many multi-generational gatherings offer sequential olive branches to their various constituencies. The music selection and volume at a wedding reception is often geared to older guests early in the evening, moving forward chronologically (and moving upward in decibels) as the event progresses.

But – too often – planners who try to please everyone wind up pleasing no one. The younger folks are bored out of their minds, long before any of “their” music is heard. And everyone over 40 hurriedly says their “good nights”, the moment the first Hip Hop song is played. By trying to have a “one size fits all” event, your perfect party feels like a perfect disaster. At least when you please yourself, somebody is happy, all the time.

Please understand that I’m not advocating knowingly alienating part of your crowd. I’m simply saying that it is almost impossible to keep everybody equally happy, all night long – with one major exception.

And that is, unless they’re happy because you are happy. If it’s your party, and you are having the time of your life, most of your guests will share in your joy (if not in your musical tastes.)

And frankly, when you are the guest of honor, or when your money is paying for the event, you have every right “to please yourself.” (So thanks for the wise words, Rick. Ozzie and Harriet would be proud!)


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